Kasey “Catfish” Joseph: Whitman’s Dean of Humans discovered using fake online profiles to stay in touch with student culture

Madeline Kemp, Miffed

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The Dean of Humans humbly addressed the Whitman community over the weekend to apologize for the scandal caused by his use of false online identities. Throughout the fall, he created fake social media profiles, posing as students, to join class Facebook pages and listservs undetected.

“I want to assure you all I had only the best of intentions: to be closer to students and find out their interests. In hindsight, I see how you may feel this is a breach of confidence,” the Dean said.  

The first fraudulent account was discovered by a first year. “Dean Fischer’s” posts to the 2023 Facebook page include: 

“Ughh encounters can really be a drag tbh, but seriously, what would we like to see change for the future?” and “¡Hola Amigos! how do we feel about the potential language requirement??” 

Other students report similar suspect online activity, and now recognize his thinly-veiled attempts at relatability. Another alleged student “Cathie Murphy” tweeted “Vandalism on campus?! #oof. What does dialogue look like to you?” 

Photos used to construct the personas mainly come from GettyImages (search: “college student”). Accounts were created on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, LinkedIn and TikTok.  

Joseph, known for his enthusiasm, claims to have been, “so excited about fun new social platforms, I neglected to stop and think about the implications of pretending to be people I am not.”

Students’ eyebrows were raised at the discovery of this questionable method for gauging student interest, collectively understood to be going a step too far.

The Dean concluded with an apology, “I crossed the line. All accounts have been deleted; I will be doing a social media cleanse for the next month. No questions please; no further comment.”